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Joy to the World: Sing the Glory

Each week Pastor Sarah blogs on the Scripture for Sunday's upcoming sermon. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Psalm 66:1-4.

I adore the sights of the season in Advent and Christmas. There is something truly transcendent about twinkling lights, heirloom ornaments, and yes, even a yard inflatable that makes you smile.

We spent five wonderful years living next door to two great boys – Owen and Wyatt. Like Joshua – they love dragons! So leave it to Owen and Wyatt to finagle a dragon inflatable in their front yard from October 1st through New Years!

(With each passing month, they changed the dragon’s accessories to match the season. Brilliant boys! … I also wouldn’t put it past them to wangle a Spring Dragon arrival!)

Each week in December I will share the significance of popular sights of the season. Learning (or being reminded of!) their significance will help deepen our understanding of these sights and our faith as we celebrate the season.

I thank my dear friend and shoe commentator, Rev. Jennie Andone, for sharing research with me for these forthcoming posts.

The most striking and the most universal feature of Christmas is the use of evergreens in churches and homes. Among ancient Romans, evergreens were an emblem of peace, joy and victory. The early Christians placed them in their windows to indicate that Christ had entered the home. Holly and ivy, along with pine and fir are called evergreens because they never change color. They are ever-green, ever-alive, even in the midst of winter. They symbolize the unchanging nature of our God, and they remind us of the everlasting life that is ours through Christ Jesus.

Today, the Christmas tree is the center of our festivities. Glittering with lights and ornaments is a part of the beauty and meaning of Christmas. There are several legends and stories about the Christmas tree.

The first use of the Christmas tree was in the medieval German Paradise Plays, held outdoors and portraying the celebration of humankind. The Tree of Life was a fir tree decorated with apples. Later other ornaments were hung upon them, such as paper flowers and gilded nuts. In England branches or whole trees were forced to bloom indoors for Christmas. From these beginnings the use of a tree at Christmas was established. Martin Luther was perhaps the first to use a lighted tree.

The story is told that on one Christmas Eve Martin Luther wandered outdoors and became enraptured with the beauty of the starry sky. Its brilliance and loveliness led him to reflect on the glory of the first Christmas Eve as seen in Bethlehem’s radiant skies. Wishing to share with his wife and children the enchantment he had felt, he cut from the forest an evergreen, glistening with snow, and took it home. He placed upon it candles to represent the glorious heavens he had seen. The use of a candle-lighted tree spread to all Europe, then America came to regard it as the central ornament of Christmas.

O Christmas tree, indeed!

Join us for worship this Sunday – 8:30am Traditional and 11:00am Contemporary – as we begin our December Sermon Series – Joy to the World! We will explore the well-loved carol, which this Christmas, celebrates its 300th year, through the lens of Psalm 66. I look forward to worshipping with you.

Prayer: “O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”* Amen.

*”O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” The United Methodist Hymnal 211.

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